Vancouver Mission Star
This message was written by President and Sister Middleton. It also appears in the Vancouver Star, the weekly newsletter of the Vancouver Mission. It is sent to each companionship throughout the mission.
SEEK FOR THE SPIRIT AS WE TEACH THE GOSPEL
President Gordon B. Hinckley related in PMG an observation he made in his mission to Great Britain: “I always remember two young men who served in my mission. One was a superstar. He was educated. He was bright. He was quick. He was a little arrogant. We had another who was a sign painter. He came from a sign shop with very little education, but he knew his inadequacies and he relied on the Lord. When he prayed, you knew he was talking with the Lord. It wasn’t a rote thing, it was a conversation, and that young man accomplished wonders while the other young man went through the motions. The power that was in the one and the absence of power in the other was so apparent. Call upon the Lord (editorial emphasis added). He has extended the invitation and He will answer” (PMG pgs. 93-94). While every analysis of the Canada Vancouver Mission suggests that 1500 baptisms per year are readily possible, it will not happen until all of us, full-time missionaries and members alike, learn to rely on the Spirit.
Conversion is Accomplished by the Spirit
My first missionary assignment in the British Mission was to Cambridge, England. It was Fall, and the students were back in class, hundreds of them. The undergraduates wore a standard identifying black cape, and nearly all were very friendly towards us missionaries. Missionary discussions were easily obtained, and we taught all day, every day. Despite that, our companionship did not see a baptism, nor did we obtain a baptismal date. I was frustrated in our lack of success. I realized only later as I became a seasoned missionary why we lacked success—we were not teaching by the Spirit. No one is converted by learning the facts of the Restoration of the Gospel alone. Conversion always comes through the witness of the Holy Ghost.
Elder M. Russell Ballard notes, “True conversion comes through the power of the Spirit. When the Spirit touches the heart, hearts are changed…. This is how we come to feel the gospel is true” (“Now Is the Time,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 75).
Teach by the SpiritIn PMG we are instructed, “…Teach as directed by the Spirit, and testify that you know by the power of the Holy Ghost that what you teach is true” (PMG pg. 92). Since Elder Kikuchi toured our mission last November, we have asked each missionary to practice giving the First Vision using the “Elder Kikuchi technique” three times weekly with his or her companion. Telling of that miraculous First Vision with markedly slowed speech, with solemnity and gravity, obtaining eye contact with the investigator to emphasize the importance of the message is a technique that is not intuitive for most of us. With practice it can be learned, but it must be practiced often. By altering the cadence of our speech and delivery, as Elder Kikuchi instructed, we instantly capture the attention of the investigator, and the content of our message about the First Vision draws the Spirit to whisper to the investigator’s soul of the truthfulness of what we say. It is powerful. We shared with you in a previous STAR the story of a young woman in Prince George who went from considering herself an agnostic to being so moved by the First Vision recitation that she had committed to a baptismal date by the end of the first lesson on a Tour of the chapel. It works!
We must practice to draw the Spirit into our teaching always. We must become compellingly effective teachers of the Gospel, teaching always by the Spirit, which through its presence allows us to teach with power.
Be Positive, Be Enthusiastic All Day, Every Day
The old saying that attitude equals altitude is precisely true in missionary work, in my observation. We all have heard the comment, “If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” My dear missionaries, your attitude in dealing with members (who are absolutely critical to our missionary success and Church growth in BC) or investigators will either impel them to action or repel them into ignoring your message. It really is as simple as that.
We have heard the analogy made that the Old Testament focuses on the negative with hundreds of Mosaic Code “thou shalt nots.” In contrast, the New Testament and Book of Mormon outline the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is positive and hopeful, teaching us that “men are, that they might have joy” (2 Ne 2:25). That joy we experience as missionaries and Church members should always be visible in our countenances. Work towards that positive, contagious enthusiasm constantly. Without it we will just get by; with exuberant enthusiasm never wavering on our part members will step forward willingly with referrals of their acquaintances, and our investigators will feel that Spirit that is necessary for their conversion.
To be positive always, to be constantly enthusiastic is our prayer for each missionary. We love each of you and love working with you.
--President and Sister Middleton
Reminder: ask for a referral in every conversation with a member or non-member alike….”Will you bring an acquaintance on a Tour, and when?”
Remember our mission goal: 10 Gospel contacts per day per missionary outside our usual finding and teaching duties. That includes a Gospel message to everyone you see.
“Every morning missionaries should get on their knees and plead with the Lord to loosen their tongues and speak through them to the blessing of those they will be teaching…. As they do so by the Spirit, their investigators will respond under the influence of the same Spirit” (Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley, “Missionary Service,” First Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, 11 Jan. 2003, 20)
As weekly goals are set for each Key Indicator, pray for inspiration, and set goals that are lofty yet achievable. Our ultimate long-term goal is for at least 3 baptisms per companionship per transfer.
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